The Misconception of a Leg Up

January 25, 2015

We often hear people say that no one helped them, no one gave them anything; no one gave them a leg up; they succeeded all on their own. But is that really true?

What most people fail to take into consideration is that giving someone a leg up has a lot of different aspects to it. It’s not always about giving them money or getting a job for them. It’s not even about introducing them to the right people who can help them in their climb to the top.

Sometimes, it’s just a word of advice or an idea. Or maybe someone makes you aware of a trait that you have that you never thought of as an attribute that could bring you success.

How many times has someone told you to read a book and there, within the pages, is some small nugget of truth, an idea that takes root and makes you think of how you could build a career around it?

Every time we hear something that sparks an idea or a reaction that we never had before, it’s the same thing as that person giving us a leg up. Without it, we might never have discovered our hidden talents or an idea for an invention. We might never even have thought of getting a job with a certain company or in a certain field.

One day I was talking to a friend and she made the comment, “You were always a great researcher. I remember you in college always looking things up and researching everything.” When I got off the phone, the wheels in my head started turning.

I’m a great researcher? I was always researching everything in college? Why the hell aren’t I doing that now? And that started me in another direction in my career. It was an offhand comment that she made, never thinking that it would kindle an idea in my mind that I could reactivate that long forgotten love of mine, the gathering of information.

Was this a leg up? You bet it was. It took a few years to put the building blocks under it, but it was a great idea and I might never have thought of it on my own, or if I did think of it, I might not have ever connected it to the work I was doing.

We get that leg up in the least likely places. Every conversation that we have, every book or article we read, every dream we have, are all potential avenues of inspiration. So, before we say that no one ever gave us a leg up in our climb to success, we should all keep in mind that every particle of inspiration that we receive, every idea we garner from some book or conversation, is the equivalent of a leg up.

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